According to the 2007 book Baby Boomers and Their Parents, based on years of large-scale national surveys, boomers are in worse health, are in greater debt, and face far greater challenges to their mental health than their parents.
According to this research, nine in ten boomers are under serious financial strain, worry more often than their parents about money, and suffer a number of stress-related illnesses.
Stress is taking its toll on the boomer generation, causing time pressures that lead to poor eating and exercise habits and ultimately to obesity. Stress is perhaps the single most important psychological factor affecting our health and can contribute most to shortening our lives.
Poor self-esteem is another important stress-related factor that can lead to a number of chronic health problems. Poor self-esteem can cause us to indulge in addictive behaviors like excessive shopping, overeating, and gambling, and overuse of alcohol, tranquilizers, antidepressants, and sleep aids. People with low self-esteem also are less likely to maintain stable social relationships.
Although we boomers are known for being the most health-conscious generation in American history, and we seem to be more knowledgeable than our parents about health and nutrition, we also are less likely than them to sacrifice good taste for good nutrition. Our reasons for eating right and exercising are also different from our parents’. Boomers exercise and diet primarily to look good and appear youthful, rather than to feel good and stay healthy, the reasons older Americans gave in the study.
Boomers fear the physical appearance of aging more than any previous generation, and apparently we will try just about anything to maintain our youthful looks. As the older baby boomers reached their late 40s and early 50s, the number of cosmetic procedures skyrocketed in this cohort.
When it comes to money matters, boomers are especially handicapped. We have always enjoyed spending our money, even before we have it. Boomers represent the first American “credit card generation.” We are known for buying just about everything on credit, even things we cannot afford, while our parents have tended to buy only what they have saved up the cash to pay for.
In fact, as a general rule, the parents of boomers have ten times as much wealth saved as their children. The older generation appears to be far more sophisticated when it comes to managing their financial assets, perhaps partially because credit was not so readily available to them when they were younger.
We in the boomer generation are more interested in shopping and buying whatever we need. We are also far more likely to show signs of compulsive, impulsive, and excessive buying behavior.
However, this does not mean that boomers are careless shoppers. We tend to shop around more than our parents, and are more price conscious. Boomers also are far more likely to complain about bad products and negative shopping experiences, a practice made much easier by the Internet and social media. Eight in ten of us make it a point to tell others about our own experiences with faulty products.
According to the research, the parents of boomers are much happier than their boomer children, happier with the way they look with fewer concerns and worries, and half of them still see the best years of their lives ahead of them. They also feel less socially isolated than their children.
Go check out my new book to learn much more about the mental health challenges we share as a generation, but also the many benefits of being born a boomer!